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My first recommendation is to do nothing at this point. Meaning, don’t break up with the guy, don’t move out from her parents, and don’t commit to the boyfriend as far as any long term commitment. There is too much undetermined and unclear at this point. Other than not doing anything, there is nothing else to do.
With everyone staying put, here are four more considerations:
Fruit from a new believer does not mean a lot. It’s positive, of course, but she needs much more than that. He has a lot of internal baggage, some of which is yet undisclosed. These “hidden things” will come to the surface the more he engages the Lord. God has a way of doing that with all of us.
The more we walk in the light, the more the hidden things in our darknesses are revealed. And the more complicated our pasts were, the more dysfunctional stuff you will see. The boyfriend had a complicated history, and regardless of how he got that way, he is that way.
The unraveling of his “former manner of life” will take time (Ephesians 4:22). Many of us are in our 50s and 60s and still untangling ourselves from our shaping influences: (1) Adam, (2) our choices, and (3) other people. Her boyfriend is no different.
And because he is “so young in the LORD,” it will take time for him to gain “sanctification traction,” and for people to know the kind of person he is. Your friend must be circumspect here (BE CAREFUL). It does not mean breaking up with him, but it is not to say over-commit to him. She must hold this relationship loosely.
If I were the girl’s parents, I would have similar cautions. I’m not sure I would react their way, but I do understand their concerns, to a point. Remember, imperfect people are the only ones who can care for us. We’re all imperfect. Imperfect people watching over and caring for imperfect people is as good as it gets.
Her parents may be an “imperfect” means of grace to protect their daughter from a major mistake. The parent’s wisdom is another reason she should not leave them. They are not perfect, but that does not automatically disqualify them from helping. It’s too early and too much is yet undisclosed. Your friend would be reactionary to leave her parents at this point.
I’m not saying her parents are correct, but I’m not saying they are not totally wrong either. Because there is no urgency to do anything, she should not set up artificial timelines to do this or that (James 4:13-17). Let it play out by giving it time.
Make sure your pastor is overseeing this. (Or whoever the spiritual lead person is in your friend’s life.) Ask his opinion. Also, it may be wise to seek out another trusted, older man (pastor, ministry leader, etc.) to get his advice, if that is possible. Not that you would heed his advice, but a more objective third party would not hurt.
As a matter of full disclosure, I am your friend’s boyfriend. I was that guy. Lucia’s parents were beholding to a conservative religious worldview. I came into Lucia’s life as an immature, frustrated, broken down, divorced man with two children.
I told my then future mother-in-law that I would not marry me if I came to the door. I understood where she was coming from and did not totally disagree with her position. And if I came to the door today, asking to date my daughter, I would reject me. I get it. Totally. I was a risk, and it’s not lost on me that Lucia married this nutcase.
Thus, the “burden of proof” is on the boyfriend. He’s got to show fruit that lasts.
The end of the story is that Lucia did not move out of her parent’s home. She was 25-years-old when I met her. We dated for three years. Her dad said I could marry her in year two. We married a year later.
If it takes three (or five) years to marry this boy, it will be worth it. She can win her parents, marry her boyfriend, honor the LORD, and live happily ever after. I did not like waiting three years for Lucia. I am ten years older than her, so I was 35 when we met and 38 when we married.
It was the right thing to do.
The boy, girl, and the parents are happy.
One final thought: if it’s God’s will for her to marry this guy, she will marry that guy. So why the pressure? If it takes one year or five years, she will marry the guy, if it’s God’s will. Perchance, it is not God’s will, and she does wait and not marry him, she will be thanking God for the rest of her life.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).